In a class of her own

In A Class of Her Own from this week’s Spectator (free registration required; goes PPV when next edition is out).

The author, James Bartholomew, explains why he is taking his daughter out of school (in Aix-en-Provence, France) to teach her himself, to get to know her while she is still a little girl and not just when she is tired in the evening, and because among other things schools there do not teach children proper grammar and how to conjugate être and avoir. He also intends to take her on visits to art galleries and museums and allow her to explore her fascinations with things like bugs and sea-shells. He objects to what he considers propaganda in the classroom (actually, some of these opinions I agree with, but never mind …) and also explodes the myth about “socialisation” whereby kids supposedly need to be thrown into a playground with loads of other kids their own age (and not much older or younger) to learn social skills:

The reactions of friends are usually positive and teachers, surprisingly, are often the most enthusiastic. But there is one recurring negative response, ‘What about her socialisation?’ Many worry that children cannot learn to rub along with others without going to school. Yet I am told, by those who have studied the evidence, that it is actually the other way around: those who are home-educated are better ‘socialised’.

I have also noticed with my elder daughter that the longer term goes on, the more she says ‘whatever’ and affects disinterest in pretty well everything (except horses). Only as the holidays progress does she rejoin the human race and allow herself to be enthusiastic. I have come to wonder whether schools have a tendency to put children off learning.

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